If You’re Looking for Something to Do with Someone, A Sea Monster Museum Is always A Solid Choice
I couldn’t not show what our favourite werewolf was up to during the orgy, right?
Grey Rain was having a crappy day.
“I want to come,” he said to Red Wolf, who was getting ready to leave. Red Wolf wasn’t looking at him, so he got up from the bed, got his attention, and said it again.
“No,” Red Wolf told him. “I already told you that.”
“But I still want to come,” Grey Rain explained, hands moving sharply. Red Wolf and King Cat were having a big party with all their friends and it was totally a sex party even if they promised it wasn’t and they weren’t letting him come and Grey Rain wanted to go to the sex party.
But they weren’t letting him. The worst thing about humans was that they were so stupid and acted like sex was something that people should only have in secret and that some people just shouldn’t have at all. They thought that Grey Rain was a puppy just because he was younger than them, even though he’d totally had sex before, with Light Stag just the other morning after the full moon, and with Shark Tail on the boat—more than once, and even once with him and Green Claw at the same time—and with a few people he’d met while exploring the big smelly city that Red Wolf said was called Big Bird Lake, which probably wasn’t its real name since Red Wolf didn’t know a lot of words. And even if Grey Rain hadn’t had sex with all those people, he was still a super strong grown-up warrior who’d helped Red Wolf kill the giant octopus in the battle with all the monsters. He was old enough to go to a sex party.
But Red Wolf was the boss and he’d said no, so Grey Rain was having a crappy day.
And it got worse once Red Wolf was done getting ready. He tossed something at Grey Rain. “What’s this?” It was a pair of pants, which Grey Rain was definitely not going to wear.
“Snowball said he was going to take you somewhere. I want you to wear those.”
Grey Rain felt his ear twitch. Snowball never wanted to go anywhere. He was afraid of everything and barely wanted to leave the bedroom. Where did he want to take Grey Rain? “Where?”
“Put those pants on and you’ll hide out,” Red Wolf said, and he came over and ruffled Grey Rain’s fur, which turned into a nice scratch between his ears, which made him feel a little better. “I know you wanted to come, but we’ll do something fun another day, promise.”
Grey Rain knew he shouldn’t pout, but he was going to pout anyway. “Will you show me how to use a sword?” he asked. He loved his knife but he wanted to have a sword like Red Wolf did.
“Okay,” Red Wolf said, and he didn’t lie, so Grey Rain felt better. “I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
Grey Rain nodded, and he hugged Red Wolf, breathing in his scent, which was strong and comforting and a little bit like metal and fire. He was a long time in letting Red Wolf go, but he did, and Red Wolf left to go to his super fun and awesome sex party with his whole pack and Grey Rain was left here in his room by himself.
But he wasn’t going to sit here and pout, that was what a baby would do. So he grabbed the stupid pants and, making a series of faces, put them on. They weren’t too scratchy and Red Wolf had made sure they had a spot for his tail, which was nice. And he left Red Wolf’s room and went across the hall to the one he now shared with Snowball.
He’d never had much interest in the room until Snowball started staying in it, but now that he was here it was a much better room. It smelled like something other than Grey Rain, like ice and leather. Snowball’s scent was comforting in a different way from Red Wolf’s. It was strong too, but also vulnerable and scared and it made Grey Rain worry, because he knew it was his job to protect Snowball and Snowball was scared of most things. But Grey Rain wasn’t afraid of anything, so he was up to the task.
“Hi,” Snowball said slowly, looking up as Grey Rain came in. He was only just learning how to talk with his hands and so it was a bit hard to talk to him, because he mostly still tried to talk with his mouth like hearing people did. But they were managing, and Grey Rain was teaching him. “Are you okay?” he always asked that. He was worried about Grey Rain just like Grey Rain was worried about him. He’d been really scared at the full moon, and not that Grey Rain would hurt him, which was what most humans were scared about. He’d been scared for Grey Rain.
Grey Rain smiled at him. “Yes!” he promised. “Are you okay?” He knew the answer was no, but he still asked back because it was polite.
Snowball nodded. “Yes.” Grey Rain thought that was a lie, but on the other hand Snowball had seemed happier in the last few days. Or at least less sad. “You…” that was the only word he knew and he said the rest with his mouth. Grey Rain had used to be able to see the shapes of words on people’s mouths, but that had been back when he’d been home and ever since the monsters had taken him, he hadn’t met anyone whose mouths made the same shapes. He was trying to learn again since he was going to live here now, but it was going very slowly.
But Snowball was looking at Grey Rain’s stupid pants, which were already too tight, so it was easy to guess what he was saying. “Red Wolf made me put them on,” Grey Rain told him, moving his hands slowly in the hopes that it would be easier for Snowball to understand. “He said you wanted to take me somewhere.”
Snowball was nodding, but if that was because he understood or just because he wanted to show he was paying attention Grey Rain wasn’t quite sure. “Let’s go outside,” he said, moving his mouth a lot as he did. Grey Rain nodded, and he waited while Snowball got on a coat and hat and gloves and a big fluffy scarf that Grey Rain liked to sleep with, and then some big boots that looked like they must hurt his feet. He also checked to make sure the knives he had under his clothes were all there, but he did it in a way that made it seem like he didn’t want Grey Rain to know they were there, even though he always did.
Grey Rain put on the hat that Red Wolf had given him to wear when he was in the city by himself, tugging each of his ears through the holes he’d ripped in it, and then he was ready to go. It wasn’t anywhere near as cold in Big Bird Lake as it had been in Narwhal Junction in the winter, and even there Grey Rain had often run naked in the snow like all the other werewolves. But humans got cold more easily and since Snowball had nearly died from being too cold, Grey Rain was glad that he took the time to put on warm clothes.
Snowball also had a small pouch that had coins in it, so Grey Rain took his too, admitting to himself (not that he ever would to Red Wolf or anyone else) that the pockets in the pants were an easier place to keep it than under his hat. Some of them were coins that King Cat had given him, but a lot of were from people he’d met in the city, who just liked to give him coins. Grey Rain usually just gave them to other people who looked like they wanted them, but sometimes he kept them because even if he thought coins were silly, humans did use them a lot and almost everyone in Big Bird Lake was a human.
“Where are we going?” he asked Snowball as they left together, curiosity making him excited. Grey Rain loved surprises, but he also hated waiting.
Snowball said something with his mouth, and then said, “Soon.”
It was not at all soon, actually. They left the big house and walked for a really long time. It was a nice night, clear, the moon hanging low in the sky and losing its fullness. Grey Rain said hello to it and the gods who lived there, thanking them for watching over him and asking them to make sure nothing bad happened to Snowball. And then they set off, walking a really long way down a road. It might have been a clear night but it was night, and it was hard to talk at night so they didn’t much, just walked. Grey Rain loved the city and he loved being out in it, there were always so many people and places and things to see and smell, and he couldn’t stop his tail wagging as they walked.
He ran ahead a few times when something caught his nose in an alley or when he thought he saw something move like a cat or something, and he pointed out things to Snowball that were exciting like birds and horses and people climbing on rooves, but he didn’t stray too far and he didn’t stop as much as he wanted to, because he wanted to know where they were going. This was just as fun as the stupid sex party he wasn’t allowed to go to, he decided. He taught Snowball how to say cat and horse and a few other things that they passed when there was enough light, and he stayed close to Snowball because he knew Snowball didn’t like to be alone. Snowball guided him away from groups of people when they passed them, because the only thing he liked less than being alone was strangers, which was part of why he was so afraid and sad all the time, Grey Rain thought.
They mostly walked down one long road that Grey Rain knew led to the ocean, so maybe that was where they were going. The ocean was cool and Grey Rain liked the way it reflected the moon and stars at night, even if the water where the boats were was kind of dirty and smelled like dead fish. Seeing it always made Grey Rain want to tell Snowball about how he’d killed the giant octopus, but Snowball didn’t know enough words for that story yet.
Just as the smell of dead fish was starting to get overpowering, Snowball turned them off the big road and towards a funny-shaped building that had a roof shaped like a big head. “Here,” he said, leading Grey Rain up the big stairs and towards the door, and then inside.
It was lighter inside, lamps lit all around, and there was a man sitting at a counter who made a face when he saw them. But even though Snowball didn’t like strangers, he nervously went up to the man and gave him two coins, and the man pointed at a door. Grey Rain didn’t like him much, but Snowball didn’t seem upset, and he led Grey Rain through that door.
Into the coolest room Grey Rain had ever seen. The walls were painted with giant pictures of sea monsters that went right up to the ceiling, and after Grey Rain stopped staring at those, he also noticed that there were shelves and pedestals all around the room with even cooler stuff than paintings on them. Underneath the picture of a big water snake was a huge fang as long as Grey Rain’s arm! And beside that was an eyeball as big as his head!
Everything in the room was just as cool as that, and Snowball had to tell him “Don’t touch” and then remind him several times because it was all so awesome! There were two claws that were almost as big around as he was under a big picture of a turtle! There was a shark fin taller than him! There was a big narwhal tusk! There was a ship’s mast with holes in it that it took Snowball showing him his teeth for Grey Rain to realize were giant bite marks! And underneath the picture of the giant octopus was a huge tentacle that was laid out from one corner of the room to the other!
“I killed one of these with Red Wolf!” Grey Rain told Snowball excitedly, not able to keep it in. He was hopping from foot to foot. “It was huge! It was the biggest thing in the world! I jumped off the back of a dragon and exploded its eyeball! There was gross eyeball water everywhere! It was so cool!” Technically Red Wolf had killed the giant octopus by cutting its brains out, but Grey Rain left that part out for now and focused on the parts that made him sound cool. Normally he liked to talk about Red Wolf, but it was very important to Grey Rain that Snowball know how cool he was.
Snowball definitely didn’t understand most of what Grey Rain was saying, but he was smiling a lot and he seemed really happy, which made Grey Rain even happier.
Everything in the room was the coolest thing in the world, and they spent almost an hour in there just looking at everything. And then there was another room, and this one was darker but it had big tanks of water in it, and the tanks all had weird monster fish in them. There was a big one with huge teeth that could bite Grey Rain’s face right off! And some that had lights on their heads and also had huge teeth! And some that Grey Rain could see right through their skin and see their guts and brains and stuff! There were fish that were just big tubes that looked silly until Grey Rain realized the tubes were nothing but teeth on the inside! There were more teeth in fish than in any other animal Grey Rain had ever seen!
There was a lady in this room who talked to Snowball a lot, and they were both pointing at the fish, so Grey Rain guessed she must be telling him about all of them. Once Snowball could talk better with his hands Grey Rain would ask him to tell him everything she’d said because he hadn’t known fish could be this cool. There was a tank of tiny colourful octopuses that were very pretty but seemed strange, until Snowball pretended to touch one through the tank and then held his hands to his neck and pretended to fall over. Grey Rain hadn’t known that an octopus could be poisonous!
There were also some weird spiny balls that the lady slowly took out of the tank and let them hold for a minute, and they were allowed to stick their hands in one of the tanks and touch some weird fuzzy plants that moved when they touched them!
The next room was full of rocks, which seemed slightly less cool at first, but the rocks had what Grey Rain thought were carvings of weird skeletons in them and were next to pictures of weird fish, and a lot of pointing from Snowball got Grey Rain to realize that the rocks were those fish. How had they turned into rocks? Had someone done magic on them? Did fish know magic? Most of the rocks were small but some were really big, and one of them had a whole shark in it, and one was part of a big snake with three heads!
Snowball definitely liked this room best, and he’d been starting to get a bit scared in the last room, so Grey Rain stayed with him and looked at all the rocks for a long time, imagining what the fish must have looked like before they’d been rocks. After a while another lady came in and started talking to Snowball about all the rocks for a really long time, and even though Grey Rain started to get just a tiny bit bored, he stayed with Snowball because even if he was having fun, talking to a stranger was making him smell a little bit nervous. They stayed for an especially long time in front of a rock that looked like a funny turtle with claws and spikes on its shell, which was definitely the coolest that a turtle could be, Grey Rain decided.
Then when they were done, there was another door that led to a tall, winding staircase that went on forever, and when they came out at the top of it they were in…
Grey Rain stopped, looking up, just staring. They were in the funny round part of the roof that he’d seen outside. There were big windows in the roof letting in the moonlight, and hanging from the ceiling was a giant skeleton. It had a huge, long neck and pointed skull, long fangs, fins like a fish, a thick tail and it was gigantic, it barely fit in the room!
Snowball was behind him and Grey Rain took a few steps forward to let him in, craning his neck to see the monster skeleton. “What is it?” Grey Rain asked, but of course Snowball didn’t know either. Underneath it, once Grey Rain stopped staring for a second, was a painting of what it looked like before it was a skeleton, long and blue and scary. It looked like a dragon, but if dragons were also sharks. “Shark dragon,” Grey Rain said. “It’s a shark dragon.”
Grey Rain had met some normal dragons, and they were really cool. But none of them were also a shark.
Grey Rain turned around to see Snowball and jumped. Right behind him was a big skull, flat and triangular like a snake, and there was a picture of a sea snake beside it! The whole big room was full of monster skeletons! There was a regular shark—a giant, huge, regular shark—near the far wall! A whole snake circled around the room and this one had two heads! There was a spiky turtle like the one downstairs but it was the size of a person! A lobster Grey Rain could have ridden! There was a weird, hunched skeleton that had wings and a beak, and Grey Rain wondered why there was a bird here with all the sea monsters until he saw the painting of the black and white bird swimming in the water and eating seals! It was as tall as Red Wolf! There was a narwhal skeleton, which Grey Rain thought was funny because everything else here was a weird giant monster and narwhals were just fish, but oh well. And near the other door, there were two skeletons that looked like people but with strange round heads, and the painting next to them showed two people with scales and fins and gills like fish.
Grey Rain wanted to be able to look at everything in this room at once for the whole rest of his entire life. He wanted to live here. This was so much better than a dumb sex party. He could have sex whenever he wanted. Why would he waste time doing that when he could be here looking at real monster skeletons?
He loved everything in this room, but he kept coming back to the shark dragon. It was just so…big. And so…huge. And Grey Rain, after staring at it for a long time, wondered what had killed it. Was there something even bigger and huger out there? Or had a human like Red Wolf killed it? He wanted to know. He wanted to know everything about this. He wanted to see a shark dragon that was alive and ask it. Maybe Snakeboy or Green Claw or Queen Fang would know about them. He would have to make Red Wolf ask them.
After a really long time that was way too short a time, Snowball was touching his shoulder. “We have to go,” he said, still smiling.
Grey Rain’s tail hurt from wagging so much. “Why?”
“Because it’s night,” Snowball said. “They have to sleep.”
Grey Rain blinked. Oh, the people who worked here. That sucked. He nodded, though, and let Snowball take him to another set of stairs, which they took down. He almost tripped a bunch of times because he was still so giddy.
At the bottom of the stairs was another room that it took Grey Rain a second to realize was a shop. And they ended up looking around for a few minutes, Snowball sliding away from him for a bit to talk to the man at the counter.
That gave Grey Rain a chance to grab something. There was a wood carving of the rock turtle that Snowball had liked so much, painted to look like it wasn’t wood. It was about the size of a regular turtle and not too heavy. The spikes on its shell looked sharp but weren’t, and Grey Rain waited until Snowball was done at the counter, hiding behind a shelf so he couldn’t be seen, and then snuck up the counter himself. “I want this!” he told the man there, who of course didn’t understand him.
But he understood just fine when Grey Rain took out his coins and gave him some. It must have been too many because the man even gave him one back, and put the turtle in a bag for him just as Snowball found them again. “There you are.”
“Hi!” Grey Rain said to him before taking the bag. He waved goodbye to the man and they left, through the first room they’d come in and outside, where the moon was higher in the sky.
Snowball waited until Grey Rain was done greeting the moon and its gods and thanking them for such an amazing night. “What are you saying?” he asked, then pointed at the moon.
“Saying thank you,” Grey Rain told him. “Gods live up there.”
Snowball probably didn’t know what the last part meant, but he looked up at the moon. “Thank you,” he said to it.
Grey Rain grinned at him. “I got you something!” And he put the bag in Snowball’s hands.
Snowball blinked in confusion, then took out the carved turtle while Grey Rain waited in anticipation. He looked so happy when he saw it that Grey Rain almost leapt into the air. His eyes were watering with tears. “Thank you, Grey Rain. You’re so nice.” He tucked the turtle under his arm a moment so he could talk.
“Thank you for bringing me here!” Grey Rain told him. “This was the best thing I’ve ever done!’
Snowball nodded, and he said, “Close your eyes?”
Grey Rain did, confused, and a moment later he felt something go over his neck, a cord. Snowball tapped his nose and Grey Rain opened his eyes, looking down. On the cord around his neck was a long fang that reached from his collarbone to the bottom of his ribcage. It was…
“Shark dragon,” Snowball told him, when Grey Rain looked up.
Snowball didn’t like touching very much but Grey Rain couldn’t help himself. He threw himself at Snowball, hugging him tightly, breathing in his scent, wondering how he’d never noticed the sweetness underneath the leather before. Snowball hugged him back, and they stood like that for a long time before Grey Rain let him go. “Thank you,” he said.
“Let’s go back,” Snowball said, face red. He probably didn’t like the cold.
So Grey Rain nodded and they headed back, Snowball putting his turtle back in the bag so he could carry it in one hand. He took off one of his gloves and before Grey Rain could make him put it back on, he took Grey Rain’s hand, and held it the whole way back to the big house.
Grey Rain didn’t know how humans worked, but that sure kept him plenty warm even in the chilly night. He was glad he hadn’t gone to the sex party. If he had, he’d have missed out on this and this, he was thinking, was way too important to miss.